March 8, 2010: Obama, Passing Health Care Reform

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President delivers the Weekly Address

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll: U.S. has lost global standing under Obama: A majority of Americans say the United States is less respected in the world than two years ago and believe President Obama and other Democrats fall short of Republicans on the issue of national security, according to a poll by two left-leaning groups.
    The Democracy Corps-Third Way survey released Monday finds that by a 10-point margin – 51 percent to 41 percent – Americans think the standing of the United States has dropped during the first 13 months of Mr. Obama’s presidency.
    “This is surprising, given the global acclaim – and Nobel peace prize – that flowed to the new president after he took office,” the pollsters said…. – Washington Times, 3-9-10
  • New poll spells potential trouble for Democrats: A new poll on Monday found signs of trouble ahead for President Barack Obama and his Democrats on national security issues such as the handling of terrorism suspects. The poll was conducted jointly by Democratic Corps, a Democratic organization, and Third Way, a progressive non-profit organization. It was done mainly to gauge voters’ views on Democrats’ handling of national security.
    The poll found 60 percent of Americans believe the United States is on the wrong track. It also found that people rated Democrats at about the same level as Republicans, in what amounted to an erosion of the advantage Democrats have held.
    “We would not want the election to be held today, with this poll,” said Democracy Corps’ chief pollster Stan Greenberg. “If the election were held today, this would be a ‘change’ election.”… – Reuters, 3-8-10
  • Bill Clinton Bests Former Presidents to Handle Crisis Today, Newsmax/Zogby Poll Finds: The Newsmax/Zogby poll asked respondents: “Of the current living former presidents, which do you think is best equipped to deal with the problems the country faces today?” Bill Clinton got 41 percent of the vote, trouncing the others in the field of four. George W. Bush received just 15 percent, George H.W. Bush got 7 percent, and Jimmy Carter, just 5 percent. (Only 7 percent of Democrats surveyed opted for Carter.) But 26 percent chose “none,” and 5 percent were “not sure” (figures are rounded). Clinton finished first among Democrats with a solid 69 percent, and among independents (40 percent). George W. Bush far outpaced Clinton among Republicans, 37 percent to 8 percent, although 33 percent of Republicans chose “none.”… – Newsmax, 3-7-10
  • Gallup poll suggests President Obama trusted more than GOP or Congress on healthcare: The Gallup poll results released on Friday, March 5th, 2008 notes: “Americans remain more confident in the health care reform recommendations of President Obama (49%) than in the recommendations of the Democratic (37%) or Republican (32%) leaders in Congress. But these confidence levels are lower than those measured in June, suggesting that the ongoing health care reform debate has taken a toll on the credibility of the politicians involved.”… – Examiner, 3-6-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama takes hard-sell health pitch to Pa.: President Obama stepped up pressure Monday on his fellow Democrats to retool the nation’s health care system, decrying those who put politics above policy. Saving his harshest rhetoric for the insurance industry, Obama began his latest attempt to pass his 10-year, $950 billion measure by declaring, “The issue here is not the politics of it.”
    “It’s hard for some members of Congress to make this vote. There’s no doubt about that,” Obama said. In contrast, he said, “What’s hard is what millions of families and small businesses are going through because we allow the insurance industry to run wild in this country.”,…. – USA Today, 3-8-10
  • Obama hails contributions of ‘daring’ women: Crediting their role in the American story, President Barack Obama on Monday praised the nation’s “daring, indomitable” women — including the one-time political rival who is now his secretary of state. “Women like Hillary Rodham Clinton, who, throughout her career, has put millions of cracks in America’s glass ceiling,” Obama said in the grand East Room packed mostly with women. “It’s because of them — and so many others, many who aren’t recorded in the history books — that the story of America is, ultimately, one of hope and one of progress, of an upward journey.”
    “We’re doing all of this not only because promoting women’s empowerment is one of the best ways to promote economic development and economic success,” Obama said. “We are doing it because it’s the right thing to do. I say that not only as a president, but also as the father of two daughters, as a son and a grandson, and as a husband.” – AP, 3-8-10
  • Joe Biden in Israel to press Mid-East peace talks: US Vice-President Joe Biden has arrived in Israel to promote a new round of Middle East peace talks more than a year after they stalled. Mr Biden – the highest-ranking Obama administration official to visit the region – will meet both Palestinian and Israeli officials. Iran’s nuclear intentions are expected to be at the top of Israel’s agenda…. – BBC News, 3-8-10
  • Pa. Sen. Arlen Specter is penning a book: Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who switched to the Democratic Party last year, is writing a book about his experiences… – USA Today, 3-8-10
  • Healthcare overhaul comes down to Pelosi and Obama: A bill’s fate depends on whether the House Speaker can land enough votes – and whether the president can take control of the debate, which Democrats complain he has not done…. – 3-8-10
  • Democrats Voice Health-Bill Doubts: Some House Democrats wavering over whether to back a health-care overhaul questioned whether it would effectively curb the country’s health costs, highlighting a difficult issue that the White House and congressional leaders must address in the final negotiations on the measure. The issue is one of several that have been raised by Democrats over the bill, which President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders are pushing to pass by the end of March. Conservative Democrats have raised questions over the bill’s language on abortion and tax increases, while liberals are unhappy with its failure to include a government plan that would compete with private insurers…. – WSJ, 3-8-10
  • Abortion and the Health Bill There is no middle ground. Either taxpayers will fund it or they won’t: It’s now becoming clear that Barack Obama is willing to put everything on the table in order to be the president who passes health-care reform. Everything, that is, except a ban on federal funding for abortion. Last September, the president promised that “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.” Yet the legislation most likely to move forward in Congress would be the single greatest expansion of abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The White House knows how to turn Mr. Obama’s September commitment into legislative action. I met with senior White House officials and told them that only adding a so-called Hyde Amendment to the health-care reform bills would fulfill the president’s promise to protect Americans from subsidizing abortion…. – WSJ, 3-6-10
  • New York Gov. David Paterson says he won’t resign: He seems to be using as a guide the consensus of a group of influential black leaders that he should retain his post, despite facing two scandals and declining public support…. – LAT, 3-6-10
  • Obama’s Health Care Push: The Race is On: After months of pleading with President Obama to be more hands on in the health care debate, congressional Democrats are finally getting their wish. First, the president put out his own proposal. Second, he held the Blair House summit (which the White House saw as a way to show once and for all that efforts at bipartisanship are fruitless)…. The time for listening appears to be over. The president is taking charge, and his message is the same one he so sternly delivered Wednesday in his speech at the White House: (1) Here’s my bill. (2) Stop dilly-dallying around and pass it. (3) Now…. – AP, CBS News, 3-5-10
  • Jan Crawford: 9/11 Trial Move an Obama Failure: When President Obama decided to try five accused 9/11 conspirators in a civilian court, they were reversing one of the Bush administration’s most strongly-held beliefs — that terror suspects must be tried in a military court, with fewer constitutional protections afforded other criminal defendants. After a barrage of pressure, it seems they are changing their position, according to Washington Post, which reports that Mr. Obama’s advisors will likely recommend a military trial for the self-professed mastermind of the September 11 attacks…. – CBS News, 3-5-10
  • Romney: Obama is another Jimmy Carter, The former presidential candidate is promoting his book: Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Friday that President Barack Obama is hurting, not helping, the economy in a way not seen “since the days of Jimmy Carter.” Speaking to the National Press Club as part of a media blitz launching his new book, Romney said that Obama has put too much focus on health care reform and not enough on jobs. Threats to raise taxes on capital gains and add a tax on carbon emissions, Romney added, along with rising deficits also are thwarting the economy. “These are the types of things that have led to the reaction in the private sector that says this is a frightening time,” Romney said. “And rather than encouraging the private sector to grow and add jobs, it has had exactly the opposite effect that the president might have intended. I think this has been the most anti-investment, anti- entrepreneur, anti-employment, anti-job agenda since the days of Jimmy Carter.”… – The Salt Lake Tribune, 3-5-10
  • Congressman Accused of Harassment Resigns: Representative Eric J. Massa, a freshman Democrat from upstate New York who faces an investigation after being accused of harassing a male aide, said Friday that he would resign next week. Mr. Massa was reported to the House ethics committee last month after a member of his Congressional staff accused him of harassment, according to a senior Congressional official who would speak only on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter…. – NYT, 3-5-10
  • Obama looking to give new life to immigration reform: In an effort to advance a bill through Congress before midterm elections, the president meets with two senators who have spent months trying to craft legislation…. – LAT, 3-4-10
  • Obama urges Dems to seize moment on health care: Support from his own party in doubt, President Barack Obama summoned more than a dozen House Democrats to the White House Thursday, pleading with them to put aside their qualms, seize a historic moment and vote for his massive health care overhaul. It’s the opportunity of a generation, he told them — and a chance to revive the party’s agenda after his rough first year in office…. – AP, 3-4-10
  • Obama Meets With House Dems on Health Care: President Obama has been busy today whipping the House’s looming health care vote himself in a series of meetings with House Democrats. The meetings have included progressives who have denounced the Senate bill, which has served as a basis for President Obama’s own proposal, and members of the New Democrat Coalition, a caucus of moderate Democrats…. – The Atlantic, 3-4-10
  • Obama reasserts Volcker rule, Senate bill seen: The Obama administration reasserted its commitment to banning proprietary trading by banks with draft legislative language on Wednesday, despite signs that Congress is unlikely to adopt such a rule. In a scant five pages from the Treasury Department, the administration put a two-year phase-in on its “Volcker rule” to curb “prop trading” — or buying and selling of investments on financiers’ own books unrelated to customer needs. Reuters, 3-4-10
  • Sarah Palin shopping reality TV series Sarah Palin — reality TV star?: The former Alaska governor is teaming with uber-producer Mark Burnett (“Survivor”) to shop a reality series about her home state, network sources confirm. Palin and Burnett made the rounds at least three of the major broadcasters (NBC, ABC and Fox) while in Los Angeles for her taping of “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” this week…. – Reuters, 3-4-10
  • The $50 question: Grant or Reagan?: Should Ulysses S. Grant, the legendary Union general and 18th president of the United States, be bumped from his 96-year stint on the $50 bill? Yes, according to one North Carolina Republican. Rep. Patrick McHenry announced that he will introduce a measure that would replace Grant’s face with Ronald Reagan’s, just in time for the 40th president’s 100th birthday next February…. – CNN, 3-3-10
  • Congressman Wants Reagan on $50 Bill, Joan Waugh objects to call to replace Grant on the $50 bill with Reagan: “President Reagan is indisputably one of the most transformative presidents of the 20th century,” Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Republican, said in a letter to his fellow members of Congress. “Like President Roosevelt on the dime and President Kennedy on the half-dollar, President Reagan deserves a place of honor on our nation’s currency.”
    “I’m outraged,” Joan Waugh, UCLA history professor and the author of “U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth,” told AOL News. “I think it’s a bad idea, and particularly troublesome coming from Southern Republicans.”
    The commanding general who led the North to victory in the Civil War, Grant was not a beloved figure in the Deep South, Waugh says. “But for the rest of the country, he was an incredibly popular two-term president.”… – AOL News (3-3-10)
  • House to Vote on Modified $15 Billion Jobs Bill: The House of Representatives will vote on a $15 billion jobs bill on Thursday after modifying it to address the concerns of centrist Democrats, a House aide said on Wednesday. The Senate, which passed the bill last week, will have to vote on it again before President Barack Obama can sign it into law…. Reuters, 3-3-10
  • Obama names Scott Matheson Jr. to 10th Circuit Court of Appeals: President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that he has nominated Scott M. Matheson Jr. to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Matheson — a former U.S. attorney for Utah, gubernatorial candidate and University of Utah law school dean — is currently the Hugh B. Brown Presidential Endowed Chair at the U.’s S.J. Quinney College of Law…. – Deseret News, 3-3-10
  • Scott Brown’s first legislative proposal is ‘Immediate Tax Relief Act for America’s Workers’ amendment: Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown is introducing his first substantive piece of legislation Wednesday morning, the “Immediate Tax Relief for America’s Workers” amendment to provide an six-month cut in payroll taxes for an estimated 130 million taxpayers…. – Washington Examiner, 3-3-10
  • Obama’s new health care reform plan to include GOP ideas: In a last-ditch attempt to craft a bipartisan health care reform bill, President Obama will release a new proposal Wednesday that will include Republican ideas on tort reform and health savings accounts, according to Democratic officials familiar with the plans. But top Republicans, including House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, immediately said the new proposal is not good enough and reiterated calls for the president to scrap the plan and start over. The situation is setting up a likely showdown that top Democrats say will end up with the president trying to pass the health legislation with only Democratic votes through the legislative shortcut of reconciliation… – CNN, 3-2-10
  • Scott Brown to join Senate homeland security, military committees: Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who campaigned on the idea of freezing federal worker salaries to control the deficit, may soon get to explore the topic further. Senate Republicans announced Tuesday that Brown will join the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, as well as the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees…. – WaPo, 3-2-10
  • In Paterson’s Attempt to Reassure the Public, a Flashback to That ’70s Show: Richard M. Nixon, the only American president who resigned from office, lived for a time in New York City. He was never a central figure in political life here. Yet 16 years after his death, his spirit endures, certainly the part of him that wallowed in self-pity and that deflected responsibility when things went haywire. For some refugees from the 1970s, Nixon came to mind the other day as they watched Gov. David A. Paterson raise his right hand, like a witness at a criminal trial, and swear his innocence. His hand flourish was not particularly Nixonian. But his words were. “I give you this personal oath,” the governor said. “I have never abused my office — not now, not ever.” His statement evoked Nixon’s “I’m not a crook” statement, uttered in 1973 as the horror show known as Watergate enveloped him and ultimately forced him into exile…. – NYT, 3-1-10
  • GOP moderates poised to gain ground in Congress: Several joined with Democrats to block a filibuster on a jobs bill, a watershed moment for this Republican faction…. – LAT, 3-1-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Romney Ties Decision on Presidential Bid to Outcome of November Elections: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney suggested Sunday that his decision on whether to run again for president may hinge on the outcome of the November midterm elections….
    “I don’t really have the pros and cons laid out yet,” he said. “It’s something which we won’t have to decide until some time after the November elections. My guess is after those elections are over and we see where the country is, and we see the features in our own lives that may affect a decision like that, we’ll sit down and make a decision.”… – Fox News, 3-8-10
  • Mitt Romney’s pick of John McCain a blow to J.D. Hayworth camp: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s recent endorsement of Arizona Sen. John McCain’s re-election was widely viewed as another sign of how far the relationship between the two fierce rivals from the 2008 Republican presidential primaries has evolved. More cynical observers noted that Romney, a leading GOP 2012 White House prospect, likely wants to remain on the good side of McCain, his party’s 2008 nominee…. – The Arizona Republic, 3-6-10
  • Scott Brown campaigns for McCain in Arizona: Facing the toughest re-election battle of his career, John McCain enlisted a rising star of the Republican Party in a bid Friday to lock down support among conservative primary voters. Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown made his first campaign trip as a senator when he visited Arizona. The appearance also marked a key test of Brown’s popularity among Republican activists and his ability to raise contributions for candidates after he recently broke with GOP leadership to side with Democrats in supporting a jobs bill. Brown joined McCain at Grand Canyon University, a small Christian school in Phoenix. “We need good people, honest people, people who are greatly respected, people who are not out for themselves,” Brown told a crowd of about 1,000 people. “And he’s right here,” he said of McCain…. – AP, 3-5-10
  • Gov. Perry defeats Hutchison in Texas GOP primary: Texas Gov. Rick Perry tapped into a rising wave of anti-Washington ire and rode it to an easy Republican primary win over Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, once seen as the candidate who could block his march toward four more years in the state’s highest office. Perry emerged from the rancorous battle with Texas’ senior senator and a third candidate backed by some in the tea party movement to face a Democrat in many ways his polar opposite. Former Houston Mayor Bill White, a calm consensus-builder, easily defeated six opponents to win his party’s nomination.
    “Texas voters said no to Washington bureaucrats … and yes to leadership that controls spending, fights for individual freedoms and the United States Constitution,” Perry told cheering supporters at the famous Salt Lick barbecue restaurant in Driftwood, just outside Austin. “Hardworking Texans sent a simple, compelling message to Washington: Quit spending all the money!”… – AP, 3-2-10
  • With Jerry Brown’s move, the governor’s race is on: Jerry Brown’s official entrance into the governor’s race Tuesday begins to frame a key question about who should lead California through its most difficult period in decades: The 71-year-old Brown is billing himself as the experienced veteran of the race, albeit one with “an outsider’s mind” to go with a 40-year record in public service that includes stints as governor, mayor of Oakland and the state’s current attorney general. “The state is in serious trouble,” Brown said in his online candidacy announcement, “and the next governor must have the preparation and the knowledge and the know-how to get California working again. That’s what I offer, and that’s why I’m declaring my candidacy for governor.”… – Sacremento Bee, 3-2-10
  • Zuckerman says he’s not running for NY Senate: Real estate tycoon and newspaper publisher Mortimer Zuckerman won’t run for the U.S. Senate in New York, his newspaper reported Tuesday. Zuckerman, 72, told the Daily News he did not have time to campaign or to devote himself to working in Washington. “It demands unhindered attention, which I am unable to give at this time,” he said…. – AP, 3-2-10
  • Jerry Brown to announce bid for governor Tuesday: California’s attorney general, who was twice elected governor in the 1970s, is expected to officially launch his candidacy online… – LAT, 3-2-10
  • Ford Decides Not to Run for Senate Seat: Harold E. Ford Jr., the former Tennessee congressman who has sought to parlay his star power and Wall Street connections into a political career in New York, has decided not to challenge Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand in the Democratic primary this September, according to friends and advisers…. – NYT, 3-1-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Weekly Address: Health Reform Will Benefit American Families and Businesses This Year Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address March 6, 2010: Now, despite all the progress and improvements we’ve made, Republicans in Congress insist that the only acceptable course on health care is to start over. But you know what? The insurance companies aren’t starting over. I just met with some of them on Thursday and they couldn’t give me a straight answer as to why they keep arbitrarily and massively raising premiums – by as much as 60% in states like Illinois. If we do not act, they will continue to do this. They will continue to drop people’s coverage when they need it. They will continue to refuse coverage based on pre-existing conditions. These practices will continue. That’s why we must act now. That’s why the United States Congress owes the American people an up-or-down vote on health insurance reform…. – WH, 3-6-10
  • Obama turns up the heat for health care overhaul: Facing a tough political environment, President Barack Obama on Saturday turned up the heat for the health care overhaul that has been his top priority for a year yet has not been passed by Congress. The president used his weekly radio and Internet address to attempt to sway a public that has soured on the topic — and especially Democratic lawmakers who are wavering. Republicans, recognizing the public’s mood, are repeating their call to start from scratch on a proposal that would potentially reshape how all Americans receive health care.
    “Now, despite all the progress and improvements we’ve made, Republicans in Congress insist that the only acceptable course on health care is to start over. But you know what? The insurance companies aren’t starting over,” Obama said in prepared remarks. “I just met with some of them on Thursday, and they couldn’t give me a straight answer as to why they keep arbitrarily and massively raising premiums — by as much as 60 percent in states like Illinois. If we do not act, they will continue to do this.” – AP, 3-6-10
  • Cable Exclusive With Mitt Romney on Explosive New BookFox News, 3-3-10
  • President Obama Follows Up on Thursday’s Bipartisan Meeting on Health Reform: Thank you again for the time, energy, and preparation you invested in last Thursday’s bipartisan meeting on health insurance reform. I have always believed that our legislative process works best when both sides can discuss our differences and common goals openly and honestly, and I’m very pleased that our meeting at Blair House offered the American people and their elected representatives a rare opportunity to explore different health reform proposals in extraordinary depth.
    The meeting was a good opportunity to move past the usual rhetoric and sound-bites that have come to characterize this debate and identify areas on which we agree and disagree. And one point on which everyone expressed agreement was that the cost of health care is a large and growing problem that, left untended, threatens families, businesses and the solvency of our government itself.
    I also left convinced that the Republican and Democratic approaches to health care have more in common than most people think… – WH, 3-2-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Donald Ritchie: Partisan bickering in Washington is nothing new: “We’ve had partisanship ever since we’ve had federal government,” Senate historian Donald Ritchie said. “Bipartisanship is really the exception to the rule.” AP, 3-6-10
  • Matt Dallek: Health reform’s last stand: “It’s most likely the end of bipartisanship on health care,” said Matt Dallek, a historian and visiting scholar with the Bipartisan Policy Centre, a think-tank created by moderate former lawmakers in Washington. Dallek said a mix of political calculations and ideology had doomed the chances of passing a bill with broad support…. – DPA, 3-8-10
  • Al Felzenberg: Advice to House: Don’t Take Any Obama Wooden Nickels The Senate may trick the House into passing its bill: “It’s always a bad sign when a chief executive tells members of Congress of his own party to ignore the politics,” says presidential historian Al Felzenberg. “It usually means he’s got a bad product.” – WSJ, 3-5-10
  • Julian Zelier: Democrats face health care hurdles amid talk of reconciliation: Julian Zelizer, a political historian and CNN.com contributor, said the Democratic leadership must be proactive in responding to reconciliation criticism.
    “They will have to explain that reconciliation is a legitimate process by pointing to the history,” he said in a CNN.com commentary. “They will also have to connect the dots for voters frustrated with the ineffective government by explaining that the constant use of the filibuster has turned the Senate into a supermajority institution where both parties have found it extraordinarily difficult — virtually impossible — to pass major legislation.” CNN, 3-1-10
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History Buzz, Feb 21-Mar. 8, 2010: ‘Last Train From Hiroshima’ Dropped

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

IN FOCUS:

  • Rosalind Rosenberg: Interview with Professor Rosenberg: Why should we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month? So that women do not disappear again from history…. – Columbia Spectator, 2-28-10

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Congressman Wants Reagan on $50 Bill, Joan Waugh objects to call to replace Grant on the $50 bill with Reagan: “President Reagan is indisputably one of the most transformative presidents of the 20th century,” Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Republican, said in a letter to his fellow members of Congress. “Like President Roosevelt on the dime and President Kennedy on the half-dollar, President Reagan deserves a place of honor on our nation’s currency.”
    “I’m outraged,” Joan Waugh, UCLA history professor and the author of “U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth,” told AOL News. “I think it’s a bad idea, and particularly troublesome coming from Southern Republicans.”
    The commanding general who led the North to victory in the Civil War, Grant was not a beloved figure in the Deep South, Waugh says. “But for the rest of the country, he was an incredibly popular two-term president.”… – AOL News (3-3-10)
  • Diane Ravitch: Scholar’s School Reform U-Turn Shakes Up Debate: Diane Ravitch, the education historian who built her intellectual reputation battling progressive educators and served in the first Bush administration’s Education Department, is in the final stages of an astonishing, slow-motion about-face on almost every stand she once took on American schooling…. – NYT, 3-3-10
  • Henry Holt drops publication of ‘Last Train From Hiroshima’: Henry Holt is dropping publication of “The Last Train From Hiroshima” after the author, Charles Pellegrino, failed to adequately answer questions about a source in the book and the revocation of his PhD more than 25 years ago…. – WaPo, 3-2-10
  • Pellegrino’s atom bom book withdrawn from circulation: Publication has been halted for a disputed book about the atomic bombing of Japan that “Avatar” director James Cameron had optioned for a possible film, The Associated Press has learned. Publisher Henry Holt and Company, responding to questions from the AP, said Monday that author Charles Pellegrino “was not able to answer” concerns about The Last Train from Hiroshima, including whether two men mentioned in the book actually existed…. AP (3-2-10)
  • Vichy remains a source of discomfort in modern France: The tangled oak woods of the Château de l’Écluse are inhabited by a great silence. The descendants of Fernand Plée, who purchased these grounds and this red-brick manor in central France in 1941, say they have nothing to hide. Their grandfather, they say, was a good man: a decorated veteran of the First World War, a willing partner to the Allies in the second, a man of generosity and courage…. – NYT (3-1-10)
  • Historians (among others) honored at White House ceremony: “Sorry I’m a little late. I had this thing I had to do,” joked President Obama, just before an afternoon ceremony at the White House on Thursday in which luminaries in the arts and academics were presented with the highest medals for achievements in their fields….
    The humanities citations went to prizewinning authors and historians Robert A. Caro (“The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, Means of Ascent and Master of the Senate”), Annette Gordon-Reed (“The Hemingses of Monticello”), David Levering Lewis (“W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963”) and William H. McNeill (“Plagues and Peoples”). The list also includes speechwriter and lawyer Theodore Sorensen, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Philippe de Montebello and philanthropist Albert H. Small, as well as Wiesel, founding chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the author of “Night,” whom the president gave his own big hug…. – WaPo (2-26-10)
  • Israel names two biblical tombs in West Bank heritage sites: Israel named the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s tomb in the West Bank heritage sites on Monday. Both biblical tombs are in Palestinian cities, and the decision brought warnings of violence and protests on Tuesday…. – CS Monitor, 2-23-10
  • Adrian Johns: History shows that intellectual property is more complex than either its creators or copiers care to admit, says a Chicago scholar: The history of publishing is swimming with pirates—far more than Adrian Johns expected when he started hunting through the archives for them. And he thinks their stories may hold keys to understanding the latest battles over digital publishing—and the future of the book…. – Chronicle of Higher Education (2-21-10)
  • Film Based on Book by Duke Professor Opens Nationwide Friday Duke connections helped bring “Blood Done Sign My Name” to big screen: The film version of Duke professor Timothy Tyson’s best-selling memoir “Blood Done Sign My Name” opens nationwide in select theaters this Friday, Feb. 19…. – Duke News, 2-17-10
  • Tests show King Tut died from malaria, study says: King Tutankhamen, the teen-aged pharaoh whose Egyptian tomb yielded dazzling treasures, limped around on tender bones and a club foot and probably died from malaria, researchers said on Tuesday…. – Reuters, 2-16-10

OP-EDs:

  • ROBERT W. MERRY: Op-Ed Contributor The Myth of the One-Term Wonder: No doubt President Obama was sincere when he recently told ABC’s Diane Sawyer that he’d “rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.” The president seemed to be saying that he would make decisions with history in mind rather than voter sentiment, even if voter sentiment would get him tossed out at the next election.
    This is perhaps a noble sensibility — and one worth reflecting on as President’s Day approaches. But it’s also misguided. The judgment of history — in the form of presidential rankings yielded up by those periodic polls of heavyweight historians — coincides to a remarkable degree with the contemporaneous judgment of the electorate. With few exceptions, history has not smiled upon one-term presidents. Only one such chief executive has managed with any consistency to get into the historians’ “near great” category…. – NYT, 2-13-10
  • Ron Radosh: Growing Anti-Semitism On The Campus: But even more disturbing is the growing evidence that Jewish students are having a most confused response to this development…. – Minding the Campus (3-3-10)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Marilyn Johnson: Library Science THIS BOOK IS OVERDUE How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All NYT, 3-7-10 Excerpt
  • Karl Rove: Book review: ‘Courage and Consequence’ by Karl Rove: COURAGE AND CONSEQUENCE My Life as a Conservative in the Fight In his memoir, Karl Rove acknowledges mistakes during the Bush presidency, but defends his former boss…. – WaPo, 3-5-10
  • Francis Wheen: Book review: ‘Strange Days Indeed: The 1970s: The Golden Age of Paranoia’ by Francis Wheen: STRANGE DAYS INDEED The 1970s: The Golden Age of Paranoia Some historians believe in the great man theory of history. Not Francis Wheen. In “Strange Days Indeed,” Wheen advances what might be called the “crazy man theory of history.” And it makes perfect sense because he’s writing about the 1970s, when world leaders exhibited astonishing levels of lunacy…. – WaPo, 3-5-10
  • James S. Hirsch: Willie Mays, the Say Hey Kid: WILLIE MAYS The Life, the Legend All those old passions rose in me again when reading James S. Hirsch’s fine new book, “Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend.”… In his long, fascinating account, Hirsch tells the full story of Mays’s baseball life…. – NYT, 2-28-10Excerpt
  • Book Review of “Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone,” by Nadine Cohodas: Indeed, what kept me from warming to Nadine Cohodas’s sharply observed biography is that it tethered me to such a deeply unpleasant character: a woman who neglects her own daughter and pushes away everyone who does her a good turn, who dwindles into alcoholism and self-exile without losing an ounce of her arrogance…. – WaPo, 2-26-10
  • Nadine Cohodas: Nina Simone, Diva Out of Carolina: PRINCESS NOIRE The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone Indeed, Nadine Cohodas’s disturbing portrait in “Princess Noire” sets out to confirm Simone’s genius. The author lingers on her stage performances, her musical decisions, her sartorial choices — the alchemy she created in sound and fury…. – NYT, 2-25-10 Excerpt
  • History Book review: “Our Times” by A.N. Wilson: OUR TIMES The Age of Elizabeth II The reign of Queen Elizabeth II “is the one in which Britain effectively stopped being British,” A.N. Wilson argues…. – WaPo, 2-26-10
  • More Obama books on the way: We’ve seen several books on the 2008 election — Game Change now rides the top of the non-fiction charts — and soon we’ll be seeing new, broader works on Barack Obama’s life and times…. – USA Today, 2-22-10
  • Ken Gormley: The President and the Prosecutor: THE DEATH OF AMERICAN VIRTUE Clinton vs. Starr: “The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr,” by Ken Gormley, recreates it all, from the Clintons’ investment in the Whitewater development in rural Arkansas to the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit and Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky, culminating in the impeachment trial. This hefty volume, going beyond the sordid details, provides helpful context for the larger story, the fractionalization of American politics that defined the Clinton years…. – NYT, 2-16-10
  • Damages: Bill Clinton’s Legal Mess: THE DEATH OF AMERICAN VIRTUE Clinton vs. Starr: NYT, 2-15-10
  • David Greenberg: Book review of ‘The Death of American Virtue,’ by Ken Gormley: THE DEATH OF AMERICAN VIRTUE Clinton vs. Starr Ken Gormley’s new book about the Clinton impeachment saga bears the lurid and trite title “The Death of American Virtue,” which sounds like a mashup of works by the conservative pundit William Bennett. Happily, though, it’s nothing of the sort. It is, rather, something I didn’t imagine would arrive so soon: a restrained, fair-minded, soup-to-nuts history of the largely fruitless investigations of Bill Clinton that shadowed so much of his presidency…. WaPo, 2-19-10
  • Nadine Cohodas: Under a Strange, Soulful Spell: PRINCESS NOIRE The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone One result was a stunning song, “Mississippi Goddam,” written by Simone in the wake of the 1963 Birmingham church bombings and the killing of the civil rights advocate Medgar Evers. It was a song that inserted her into the forefront, at least musically, of the civil rights movement. Its recording is a moment that Nadine Cohodas’s fascinating if turgid new biography of Simone, “Princess Noire,” builds toward and then falls away from…. – NYT, 2-18-10 Excerpt

FEATURES:

  • Tim Lewis: Teaching Canadian history through hockey: Turning hockey into a history lesson is a dream come true for Tim Lewis. Lewis combined his love of hockey and passion for history and developed two hockey-themed history courses in the summer including “Hockey and the Canadian Identity to 1952: The Development of a National Obsession”, and “Hockey and the Canadian Identity since 1952: Canada’s Game in the Cold War and Beyond”…. – Canada.com (3-3-10)
  • Black History Today: A Profile of Historian Crystal Feimster: Crystal Feimster went to college thinking she was going to be an attorney. The legal profession’s loss was history’s gain. While she was still an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina, Feimster met a string of distinguished African-American historians who made history exciting, including Tera Hunter, Darlene Clark Hine and Clayborne Carson…. Today, Feimster, 38, is at the forefront of a new wave of black historians exploring the forgotten nooks and crannies of American history. This fall, she will move from Princeton, where she has been a visiting professor, to a position in the Department of African-American Studies at Yale University. She is married to Australian historian Daniel Bottsman, whose work centers on Japan… – The Root (2-19-10)

QUOTES:

  • Missing Element in Obama’s Ties With G.O.P. Leaders: Good Chemistry: “The founders’ work was grounded in personal chemistry,” said Ted Widmer, a presidential historian at Brown University and former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton. “They spent endless time together. They lived near each other in Philadelphia. They disagreed profoundly on things, but they all knew each other, and that helped.”… – NYT, 2-24-10

INTERVIEWS:

  • Robert Dallek: All Things Considered, Obama, Congress, And The Need For Toughness: President Obama is known for his consensus-building style. But does he have the stomach for the tactics to get his agenda passed? President Lyndon Johnson went one-on-one with dissenting congressmen and threatened to end their careers unless they toed the party line. Would those tactics fly today? In the wake of an unprecedented health-care summit this week, host Guy Raz talks with historian Robert Dallek about how tough presidents have to be…. – NPR, 2-27-10
  • Jeffrey Wasserstrom: The Dalai Lama’s Visit to D.C.: A Short Interview With Historian A. Tom Grunfeld: The lead-up to the Dalia Lama’s meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House last week received a great deal of attention from the press, and there was also a considerable amount of after-the-fact assessment of the event. In order to place what happened into a broad historical perspective, I put a few questions to A. Tom Grunfeld, who is a past contributor to “China Beat” and the author of The Making of Modern Tibet. Here are the results of our interview via e-mail…. Huffington Post (2-24-10)
  • Michael Kazin says America is an optimistic nation — Interview with CNN: What does it mean when 86 percent of the Americans surveyed last week by CNN/Opinion Research Corp. say they believe that their system of government is broken? It probably means, Michael Kazin says, that Americans are behaving like they always do. A repeated theme in American history, says Kazin, a historian at Georgetown University, “is Americans believing the country is in decline and then finding ways to rebound from both the fear of decline and the problems that gave rise to that fear.”… – CNN (2-23-10)

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • Robert S. McElvaine: Clintonian receives literary honor: Historian, author and longtime Clintonian Robert S. McElvaine is a winner of the 2010 Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award. The honor was presented Friday at the 21st annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration in Natchez. It is given annually to honor Wright, the internationally acclaimed author and Natchez native who wrote the classic books Black Boy and Native Son…. – Clintonian News, 3-4-10
  • Gordon S. Wood wins American History Book Prize: The historian Gordon S. Wood won the American History Book Prize last week for “Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815,” an account of how America’s leaders created the country’s democratic institutions. The award, presented by the New-York Historical Society, comes with a $50,000 prize, an engraved medal and the title of American Historian Laureate…. – NYT (2-28-10)
  • Washington College Announces George Washington Book Prize Finalists: The finalists are: Richard Beeman’s Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (Random House), R.B. Bernstein’s The Founding Fathers Reconsidered (Oxford), and Edith B Gelles’ Abigail & John: Portrait of A Marriage (William Morrow)…. – The C.V. Starr Center at Washington College
  • Henry Snyder: UC – Riverside historian named Officer of the British Empire (OBE): To the titles Recipient of a National Humanities Medal and Professor of History Emeritus at UC Riverside Henry Snyder can add one more: Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. The award, which is presented to few individuals outside the United Kingdom, was announced by Queen Elizabeth II in December and will be presented to Snyder at the British embassy in Washington, D.C. in early spring…. – UC – Riverside (2-22-10)

SPOTTED:

  • Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. captivates Messiah College audience with lecture on genealogy and history: On Thursday night, before a packed audience at the Eisenhower Campus Center at Messiah College in Grantham, Gates’ formidable command of history and genealogy, plus his natural and authentic style at the podium, captivated an audience of students, adults and dignitaries — young, old, black and white — with a lecture that wove personal stories with American history, and the important implications of personal ancestry…. – Penn Live, 2-25-10

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • Spotlight, Greenwich Offering Face Time With History: the Bruce is hosting a three-part lecture series. On Feb. 25, Philip B. Kunhardt III, a Lincoln scholar and Bard Center Fellow (and Mr. Kunhardt Jr.’s uncle), will discuss the photographs in “Lincoln, Life-Size,” which span the period from 1857 to 1865. “I’m going to focus in on Lincoln’s face,” he said, “what we can learn from it, how it changed over time.”… – NYT, 2-21-10
  • Studying and debunking Civil War myths: Civil War history is rich with tales of blood and gore, heroism, and too many lies. Some of the nation’s pre-eminent historians will examine that history in a symposium, “Race, Slavery and the Civil War: The Tough Stuff of American History and Memory,” at Norfolk State University in September. The conference is free and open to the public, and registration opened this week…. – The Virginian-Pilot (3-2-10)
  • Civil War Web site gears up State promoting events for war’s 150th anniversary: With just one year to go until the Civil War’s 150th anniversary, history lovers across Tennessee have taken their battle for the past to a new front – cyberspace. The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and the state Department of Tourist Development launched a new Web site this month to help promote events planned statewide for the war’s anniversary, which will stretch from 2011-2015. The Web site – http://www.tncivilwar150.com – remains a work in progress but has already drawn praise from East Tennessee historians and preservationists…. – Knox News, 2-8-10

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • Cliff Sloan: The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall, and the Battle for the Supreme Court, (Paperback) March 2, 2010
  • Hugh Ambrose: The Pacific, (Hardcover) March 2, 2010
  • Jonathan Phillips: Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades, (Hardcover) March 9, 2010
  • Thomas Asbridge: The Crusades, (Hardcover) March 9, 2010
  • Bryan D. Palmer: James P. Cannon and the Origins of the American Revolutionary Left, 1890-1928 (1st Edition), (Paperback) March 1, 2010
  • C. Brian Kelly: Best Little Stories from the Civil War, (Paperback) March 1, 2010
  • Nicholas Schou: Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World, (Hardcover) March 16, 2010
  • Timothy M. Gay: Satch, Dizzy, and Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball Before Jackie Robinson, (Hardcover) March 16, 2010
  • Miranda Carter: George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I, (Hardcover) March 23, 2010
  • John W. Steinberg: All the Tsar’s Men: Russia’s General Staff and the Fate of the Empire, 1898-1914, (Hardcover) April 1, 2010
  • Simon Dixon: Catherine the Great, (Paperback) April 6, 2010
  • J. Todd Moye: Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, (Hardcover) April 12, 2010
  • Seth G. Jones: In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan (Paperback) April 12, 2010
  • Nick Bunker: Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History, (Hardcover) April 13, 2010
  • Dominic Lieven: Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace, (Hardcover), April 15, 2010
  • Timothy J. Henderson: The Mexican Wars for Independence, (Paperback) April 13, 2010
  • Hampton Sides: Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin, (Hardcover) April 27, 2010
  • Max Hastings: Winston’s War: Churchill, 1940-1945, (Hardcover) April 27, 2010
  • Bradley Gottfried: The Maps of Gettysburg: An Atlas of the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863, (Hardcover) April 19, 2010
  • Kelly Hart: The Mistresses of Henry VIII, (Paperback) May 1, 2010
  • Mark Puls: Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution, (Paperback) May 11, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • William LaFleur, noted scholar at Penn: WILLIAM R. LaFleur was a distinguished professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, delving into such subjects as bioethics, Zen Buddhism, Japanese culture and the like, but one subject that also caught his interest was abortion. He wrote on this subject in a book, “Liquid Life: Abortion and Buddhism in Japan,” one of his many books on subjects ranging from medieval literature to unethical medical research, religious thought, Zen and many other topics. He died of a massive heart attack Friday at the age of 73…. – Philadelphia Daily News, 3-4-10
  • Professor Jack Pole: historian of the US, dies at 87: Professor Jack Pole was the foremost British historian of the United States in his generation, and his books and articles won him recognition and acclaim in the highest ranks of US historians. He was an expert on the American Revolution but he wrote on all periods and linked the history of the US to that of Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries. Times Online (UK) (2-16-10)
  • David Bankier, Scholar of Holocaust, Dies at 63: David Bankier, who helped expand the contours of Holocaust research by examining the participation of ordinary Europeans in the extermination of their Jewish neighbors, died over the weekend after a long illness, Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem Holocaust center, announced. He was 63. Mr. Bankier, who was head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, focused his scholarly work on anti-Semitism, especially its use by the Nazis to promote and sustain a broader ideology. He was the author of “Germans and the Final Solution: Public Opinion Under Nazism” as well as a collection of essays, “Hitler, the Holocaust and German Society: Cooperation and Awareness.”…. – NYT (2-28-10)



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